She’s a 38-year-old civil rights activist from Barcelona who recently called both Spain’s stringent mortgage law, and a renowned banker who praised it, "criminal". She then added, "I would've preferred to have thrown a shoe at him, but chose not to as I had some important things to say today in parliament".
Tell me more about her.
Ada has been the public face of the PAH (Platform for those Affected by Mortgages) for the past four years. This social lobby group has stopped around 600 evictions and continues to denounce an evictions regime it claims has caused the suicides of many people.
The platform gained momentum and a higher profile from the 15M and Democracia real YA! (Real Democracy NOW!) movements of 2012, which saw hundreds of thousands of Spaniards, if not millions, take to the street in protest against the pitiful state of the economy.
But Ada still remained a relatively unknown face in Spain until just recently.
So what’s changed?
On January 29th her condemnation of the banking community in parliament made her the new voice of the average José on the street. Hundreds of thousands have already watched her eloquent but passionate demolition of the evictions regime on YouTube, and her Twitter following has quadrupled in less than three weeks to more than 36,000.
Is there anything else she’s famous for?
No, there’s more. Ada and the PAH managed to gather 1.4 million signatures for an initiative calling on parliament to amend Spain’s intransigent mortgage law, which not only empowered courts to evict defaulting debtors but also to embargo their assets and future earnings.
Colau and her colleagues went to parliament on February 12th to call for legal changes to allow outstanding mortgage debt to be liquidated on surrender of the property.
But the PP was having none of it and chose to vote against the initiative on the grounds that it had its own proposals that would make the petition obsolete.
That was until Basque MP Uxue Barkos informed the house that a couple in Mallorca had just committed suicide after finding out they were to be evicted.
Colau and other PAH activists heckled PP speakers and chanted "¡Sí, se puede!" (Yes, we can!) and "bastards", until they were expelled from the public gallery. The PP speaker in congress Jesus Posadas was then caught on microphone calling out to the ushers: "Fuck, have them thrown out!"
But during a corruption scandal involving handouts made to many top officials and with the overall reputation of the party in tatters, PP deputies could not really avoid giving Ada Colau a national stage on which to talk about Spain’s housing crisis.
What's next for her then?
Ada has been hailed by many Spaniards as a modern day heroine who is standing up to a lacklustre government with no sympathy for those being forced out of their homes.
There have already been calls for her to enter parliament, but she says “it’s the assembly that will decide my future”.
In the meantime, Colau appears adamant about continuing the fight against evictions.
A "pragmatic" European Union is unlikely to eject Catalonia if it votes to part ways with the rest of Spain: that's the argument put forward in a new report by a team of pro-independence advisers to the region's government. READ () »
Confused about Spanish tax returns? Don't stress: there's help at hand. The Local spoke recently Paul Greene of Spain Accountants to get the lowdown on who needs to file and what sort of deductions are available. READ () »
Seven of the ten regions in the European Union with the hightest unemployment are in Spain. File photo: Lluis Gene/AFP
Some 36.3 percent of people are out of work in Spain's Andalusia's region: that's the most in Europe and 14 times higher than in Germany's Upper Bavaria, which has the lowest jobless rate in the EU, figures released on Tuesday show. READ () »
Both pieces reflect Gaudí’s highly distinctive style. Photo: Institute of Catalan Studies
More and more young Spaniards, forced to leave home by crippling unemployment, are attracted to London by the prospect of work and the chance to learn English — but often run into a fresh set of problems. READ () »
"In Madrid alone, there are 160,000 LGBT affiliates above the age of 65,” says Federico Armenteros, head of the foudation. Photo of elderly gay couple: Shuttersto
A Madrid foundation wants to offer the country's elderly gay and lesbian community a place where they can be open about their sexuality without facing rejection or bullying from their peers. The Local Spain speaks to their president. READ () »
Two members of Spain's Civil Guard police force outside a prison in the Spanish town of Teixeiro. File photo: Miguel Riopa/AFP